The last time I wrote about what I was up to was in late January, at the mid-point of my sabbatical. Oops. Today is actually a bonus day off – I have thought for the entire three months that I was going back to work today, but I’m actually going back tomorrow. My last day off is today. Score! I sure was smart way back when I requested my time off. I was pretty bummed when I realized I was going to be going back to work right after Mardi Gras break, with no down time from the boys being home from school for a week and a half. So it’s nice to have some quiet time today to straighten up the house and get some things done and just to chill.
SO. What have we been up to?
A lot, actually.
Let’s see if I can remember it all.
First, I want to say that I really thought my sabbatical would fly by. I guess to everyone else it has, but to me, it really hasn’t. It felt like three months. It felt like a nice long stretch of time. Mid-December feels like a long time ago. I think maybe it’s because I didn’t try to fill it with too much stuff. I really did relax and laze around a bunch. 😀 Continue reading →
Last week (on Wednesday), I turned 44 and it was a great birthday week. I’ll try not to make this too wordy, but I mean, a lot of fun stuff happened, so I may fail.
We have to start on Tuesday when the washing machine broke. I know, this birthday week isn’t starting out too promisingly, is it? Particularly since it was the day the boys went back to school, and I had literally been counting down the minutes until I had some peace and quiet and solitude in the house. Instead, I had our friend Chris come over to try to fix the washer (he determined it wasn’t easily fixable, and we’d already fixed this thing a zillion times) so happy early birthday to me, I went to Home Depot and picked out a new washing machine.
I mean, exciting, except for the part where you have to pay for a new washing machine. (It wasn’t delivered until Saturday, but I’ll skip ahead and show you a picture of this beautiful giant that can wash enormous loads of laundry.)
Aw, our poor lil’ dryer is dwarfed by it.
Okay, so Tuesday night is when the excitement really started. Kiki flew in! I picked her up and we went to Mopho for dinner and had pho and these really delicious chicken wings.
And then Wednesday, it was my birthday! Yay!
I woke up bright ‘n’ early with the boys and got them off to the bus stop, and then Kristina and I went to Orangetheory, where, duh, we wore shirts that I made (kind of like the ones I made for our trip to Harry Potter World.)
I got so many birthday wishes! This was a great idea she had. Definitely do this on your birthday.
Next, we went home to shower, then hopped on the ferry (it was a gorgeous day) with mimosas and met Teresa for lunch at French Toast. (I’m friends with the owners, and I had been wanting to check it out since it’s pretty new.)
Next, we went in search of a king cake since I knew that it would make the boys happy, and it could also stand in for my birthday cake. After we found it, we got an Uber back to the house so we could meet the boys at the bus stop.
We hit up Ann Frances’s birthday party for a while and took our usual birthday pic together. ❤
We rested for a little while and then we went and had pizza for dinner at Tavolino, a restaurant in the neighborhood.
And after dinner, the boys gave me cards (Linus didn’t want me to share his, but here are the ones I got from Oliver and Miles, and of course I cried a bit.)
And then we had king cake!
And then Kiki and I went to have a nightcap at the pub. But we didn’t last too long, we were exhausted.
Thursday, Kristina spent the morning cleaning the crap out of my kitchen, which is basically her favorite thing to do. Meanwhile, I got a much-needed haircut.
Later, we went to a fabric store that I love so Kristina could pick out fabric for the skirt I was going to make her. Then we went to get 80 minute massages at a spa. Oh man, that was heavenly! That night, we made a pot of Italian sausage and kale and tortellini soup for the grown ups and sushi rolls for the kids. I also made a cucumber salad for the boys AND THEY ATE IT AND LIKED IT. So obviously the apocalypse is upon us.
Friday morning, we went back to Orangetheory, and then had a late lunch at Turkey and the Wolf. We split a bologna sandwich and a collard green melt. It was good, for sure, but we were both scratching our head a bit at how a hipster sandwich place got named “Best New Restaurant in America.” (The collard green melt was too spicy for me, sad sad sad.)
Kristina spent every spare moment organizing my pantry and the rest of the kitchen, and it’s pretty amazing right now. She loves to do that stuff. And then she was supposed to leave Saturday evening, but there was snow forecast where she lives for Saturday night, so she changed her flight to Saturday morning. SAD PAM.
I brought her to the airport while the new washer was being delivered, and then spent the rest of the day resting and getting ready for the CAMAN Ball that I was attending that night with friends. It was a speakeasy theme, and it was a lot of fun getting all glammed up. Jen was my date.
Oh wait, so now I have to tell you about the presents I got because it’s kind of funny how excited I am about them. Well, funny if you don’t sew. But George got me a cordless iron! And my mom got me nice scissors (now I really do feel bad for sneaking her nice scissors for cutting paper when I was little) and a new ironing board! I mean, not just ANY ironing board. This thing is TALL and WIDE and NOT WOBBLY and the base for my new iron sits on a holder on the end and it doesn’t squeak and it’s all very very exciting. If you sew, anyway. Also my lovely friends got me Joann gift cards and THE FUN NEVER STOPS.
A few months ago, I was flipping through Real Simple and in the “Your Words” section, they asked readers to write about their greatest accomplishment of 2018. I’ve never been inspired to write in before, but I emailed off a little snippet about my greatest obsession accomplishment of 2018.
I got an email a few weeks later saying they might use what I wrote in the December issue, and THERE IT IS!!! So exciting. And yet so nerdy.
We were on our cruise when the issue came in the mail, so I had to beg my friend Jenn to dig through our mail and take a picture of it for me. I knew it was in there because someone tweeted to let me know.
I think it’s time for another blog post full of randomness.
My sabbatical starts in 32 days, 7 hours, 41 minutes, and 43 seconds! (A bit less by the time I actually post this, of course.)
And our cruise is coming up fast (don’t bother robbing us while we’re gone, we’re going to have a house sitter. Plus we have nothing to steal unless you like fabric. Please don’t steal my fabric.) and I’m working on shorts for the boys.
After the cruise is the boys’ school Winter Fair and my friend Bea is having a booth and she’s letting me sell some of my bags! So exciting! So I uh, need to make some bags. I wish I could bring my sewing machine on the cruise. Hmm.
Remember when I tripped and skinned my knees like a little kid in my friend’s backyard way back in August? (I may not have mentioned it here.) Well, I also hurt my right foot a bit at the time, but not a ton, but it’s just been bugging me ever since. I finally went to my orthopedist and he confirmed it was nothing major, which was a relief. It’ll just take a while to heal, and it’s fine to continue exercising and not do the things that make it hurt (mostly lunges and burpees OH DARN and anything that causes me to flex my toes.)
But what I found out that was interesting is that I have extra bones in my foot! Under my toes! And they’re all broken up! Most people only have this tiny bone under their big toe, but I have them under all of my toes, and they should be in one piece, but they’re in a few pieces. He said that is due to some old trauma, and it wasn’t causing my pain, it was just an interesting discovery that we found because of the x-rays I had.
If I had to guess, the “trauma” was running twomarathons and 13 half marathons overweight. Whatevs.
In other news, competitive soccer is done for the fall, but school soccer has begun! It’s not as time-consuming, though. But I do have to pick them up from school a couple of times a week. But that’s okay, I guess.
OH, this is exciting – I have been wanting to volunteer in a NICU starting during my sabbatical but I hadn’t had much luck getting into any of the programs in local hospitals. Finally, I got a call back from two hospitals, even though neither of them had openings in the NICU. I chose the local Children’s hospital because it’s smaller. I went to volunteer orientation, got my TB test (negative, whew) and some other tests, and I’m just waiting for an interview now so I can be put on the schedule. To start, I’ll be walking people around the hospital so they don’t get lost (it’s kind of a maze) but at some point, I’ll get into the NICU to rock babies. I’m in this for the long haul, so no rush. I can be patient.
So sabbatical plans:
Organize house (i.e., throw away a lot of stuff)
Volunteer at hospital, hopefully get to rock some babies at least
See Kiki at some point
Work out a lot, make muscles bigger
In yet other news, my lemon tree might be dying. My black thumb strikes again. I’m so sad. It was full of lemons, but they abruptly stopped growing at some point, but ripened really fast, and ended up the size of ping pong balls instead of grapefruit like last year. The leaves on the tree are all withered and it’s v sad. It doesn’t look good.
My theories are either that the Bradford pear next to it is stealing all the sunlight (but surely it wasn’t that much shorter last year?) or something to do with fresh, healthy lemon tree growth at the base of the tree? Sapping all the nutrients from the rest of the tree? I have no idea.
Anyhoo, that’s about it for now. I’m sure I’ll think of more as soon as I hit “publish” but I’d better do it before I have to change the sabbatical countdown at the top of the post again.
I have to post about this because Friday night was the most fun night ever!
Stephanie and I went to a live show at the Orpheum of our favorite podcast, My Favorite Murder. If you like true crime (I mean, I guess I must) and cursing and laughing, you should definitely listen. If you don’t like all three of those things, maybe stick to This American Life.
Back in October, tickets went on sale. I was in London at the time and just finishing up a meeting when the time came for sales to start. I tried and tried and tried and just could not get tickets. Meanwhile, back in the States, Stephanie was also trying. Thank goodness she was able to get a pair for us. Not just any pair – second row, VIP!
VIP meant we’d get a few goodies but best of all, we’d get to meet the hosts, Karen and Georgia after the show! Eeek! For months, Steph and I planned what we were going to wear (I’d make shirts for sure, but what would they say?!?) and what we’d give them. (People often give them a little gift at the meet and greet.) Continue reading →
Ooh, a whole week has gone by without a post. My bad!
Wasn’t the most exciting week, though. Well, let’s see. The boys went to their friend Ian’s house for a sleepover Saturday night, and everyone stayed all night and had a great time, so that was a relief. Also their house is full of IKEA so I felt right at home and now I want to build a loft-like space above their bedroom. And I had poke for dinner after I dropped them off.
The other great thing that came out of it was Ian’s recipe for cheesy popcorn, which we’ve made twice now. I hope he doesn’t mind if I post it here.
IAN’S CHEESY POPCORN
Put one tablespoon of olive oil in a pot big enough for popcorn, turn on medium to medium high heat.
Add 6 tablespoons of popcorn kernels (this is where Linus says, let’s just add a little bit more, so it’s usually more like 7.)
Wait until one of the kernels pop. This takes an eternity. I guess it’s true, watched popcorn never pops.
Put the lid on. If you’re lucky, your pot has a glass lid so you can watch all the popping action.
Shake the pot while it pops. Is it necessary? Maybe not, but it feels right.
When it’s all done, pour the popcorn into a big ol’ bowl.
Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil on the popcorn and mix it all up.
Shake 6 tablespoons of parmesan cheese on top and mix it all up.
Eat! And then look at all the parmesan cheese at the bottom of the bowl and decide next time to use a bit less.
I hope you enjoy this delicious treat as much as we do!
What else is exciting? Hmm. Well, Steph and I are going to see a live show of My Favorite Murder podcast tonight, which I am very excited about. Not a podcast for the kids, though. Probably obvious from the title. Oh, and Sunday morning, Linus and I will be on the local news for three minutes talking about this little coding robot toy thingy. I’m sure that won’t be completely awkward or anything.
Oooh, my new glittery sneakers got here! Love them.
It’s been a fairly eventful couple of weeks lately. Let’s see….
Went to the Pink Prom (I mentioned it at the end of a post a while back) and wore a dress I got for fifteen dollars at the thrift store, and I gotta say, I felt quite a bit more glamorous than I usually do.
Had a great time going with friends, but my neck was literally bruised from that halter the next day. Ouch.
The end of last week was taken up a lot by the thoughts of Hurricane Nate. We went back and forth about evacuating, as it was headed straight for us, but it wasn’t supposed to be strong. And we had plans Saturday that I didn’t want to cancel, which didn’t help with the decision-making process.
So after planning to evacuate and stocking up on water and various Chef Boyardee products for George (who would stay behind no matter what) we eventually just decided to stay. And…it was nothing. Barely any rain, and just some nice breezes.
Saturday morning, the boys had an audition. I don’t even know for what. Kind of strange, but they had a great time. I made their hair dark again so they’d look more alike, but I don’t think it worked. Maybe if they combed their hair the same and smiled the same?
Afterwards, I headed to my friend Jordan’s baby shower. You know I love any kind of shower. The food is the best. And this shower did not disappoint. Angela made the cakes for my own baby shower ten years ago (almost exactly!) and made most of the food for this shower too. Yum!
So I started two write this post a few days ago, as you can tell by the title. Now I can add even more fun stuff!
We went to visit Grandee and Larry for a night, it was pretty low-key. I was going to take the boys to a pumpkin patch, but the temp has literally been close to 100 (well with the heat index) so I gave up on that plan. Ugh.
One thing we’ve been working on is bike riding. I know, they’re almost 10, but there just aren’t great places to ride bikes in our neighborhood (sidewalks are terrible, and the levee is just too terrifying to contemplate.) We brought the bikes to Baton Rouge and check out Miles!
Wednesday night, Linus had his first solo sleepover at Ethan’s house, which he loved. And then yesterday, I took the boys to Laser Tag for the afternoon. And it was free! You may see their pictures on the Laser Tag website at some point. I was able to sit in the cafe and work while they played arcade games and ran around the laser tag arena. Would have been perfect if I had my noise-canceling headphones.
(They never showed up. I HATE YOU WHISTLER HILTON.)
I also spent a ridiculously embarrassing amount of time taking pictures of myself so I could have a new profile pic for work. But look at my hair! Heart eyes!
In other exciting news, I’m going to England for work in a couple of weeks! We’ll be super busy so not a lot of time for sightseeing or anything, but as long as I can stock up on Winter Pimms and eat some toad in the hole, I’ll be happy. And walk in Kensington Gardens, since we didn’t get to last time. Sadly, I’m probably more excited about the cool weather than anything else. (That’s a lie. I’m more excited about toad in the hole.)
This weekend should be fun too. Grown up time at City Park, the boys have A DANCE AT SCHOOL (really it’s just a Halloween party but they’re calling it a dance so I am too!) and Sunday is the NOMB Halloween event. Good times!
After I wrote yesterday’s post about riding in a parade, it was brought to my attention that a lot about Mardi Gras doesn’t make sense. Now, I’m really not the best person to write this probably but it’s my blog so I’m going to anyway. Interspersed are random Mardi Gras pictures.
How many krewes are there? Are there always 42 floats? What are throws and why do some krewes have certain ones? Do krewes have a theme? Do they have a larger goal (like donating to charity)? Do they do other parades?
There are a bunch of krewes. If I had to guess, I’d say…50. Now let me google that to see if I’m right.
Okay, I was wrong. 35. That said, those are only the ones that roll in New Orleans. Metairie has ten parades, and there are more on the Northshore. So maybe my initial guess was close. My memories of Mardi Gras as a child involve going to my aunt’s house on Bonnabel in Metairie and watching the parades roll by while my sister made out with her boyfriend on the sidewalk. Good times, good times. So I can’t discount the non-NOLA parades.
The number of floats in each parade vary. I’m going to guess again and say 42 is on the high end, but I don’t really know. I could probably look it up. Nope, wrong again. Endymion has 81!!! Holy cow!
I should back up. What is a krewe, and why is it spelled so…ugh?
According to Wikipedia, “A krewe (pronounced in the same way as “crew”) is an organization that puts on a parade or ball for the Carnival season.” I can’t see any good reason they spelled it “kreatively” but it’s been spelled that way since the 1800s so I’m going to just have to let it go.
They are non-profit organizations, or social clubs. I think some of them do charitable things throughout the year, but I’m not sure, to be completely honest. The purpose seems to be to put on a parade at Mardi Gras. And for some krewes, to show how fancy and rich you are. (I mean, that’s probably not in their mission statement, but let’s face it, it’s true.)
Anyway, a krewe basically equals a parade. So the Krewe of Nyx rolls on the Wednesday before Mardi Gras, and that’s the Nyx parade. The Krewe of Endymion rolls on the Saturday night before Fat Tuesday, and you say, “I’m going to Endymion tonight.”
So on to throws. A throw is anything you throw off the float. Get it? Beads are the traditional throw. But most krewes have a signature throw. As I mentioned, Nyx has glittered purses and Muses has shoes. Tucks has toilet paper. Zulu has coconuts. They also will have custom cups and doubloons and stuffed animals and basically all sorts of random stuff. That’s part of the fun! But the purses and shoes and coconuts are the coveted prizes. Those are the things you want to get.
All parades have a theme. For instance, Nyx’s theme was something about music and dancing so all of the floats had a music or dance theme. My float’s theme was Belly Dancing so our float and the headpieces reflected that. Tomorrow, Thoth will roll with a theme of “Thoth’s Cookin'” so I imagine they will have a lot of cooking-related throws. (Great chance to restock the kitchen!)
Oh, and how could I forget what goes on between the floats? A parade is not just a line of floats going by. Oh no. Between each float might be a high school marching band. (Or elementary school!) Or a group of grown women dressed in corsets and wigs doing a choreographed dance down the street. Or men, for that matter. The music is what makes the parade.
Okay, I think I hit Zandy’s questions. Robyn asks:
I actually want to know the schedule of things. How many parades? Are they all different? Why was your parade NOT on Mardi Gras? Does the whole city get involved? Is it a school holiday?
As I said, there are 35 parades in New Orleans. They are all different, yes. Mine wasn’t on Mardi Gras because…well, 35 parades running on roughly the same route uptown at an average of, what, 3 hours each (totally making that up), would take, well, a lot longer than a day. So they’re spread out over a few weeks. The majority of them run from the Wednesday before Mardi Gras through Fat Tuesday.
I’d say the whole city is involved in some way. I mean, you can’t really escape it.
School is out for Mardi Gras. The boys get off the entire week of Mardi Gras which enrages me, since Mardi Gras is on Tuesday. Why they need Wednesday – Friday off after the holiday is beyond me, but I know a lot of people vacation then. But still. A week? Ugh.
I suppose you might also want to know about King Cake. It’s basically a circular brioche bready thing, maybe with cinnamon, usually frosted with colored sugar on top. Everyone has a favorite bakery or grocery store king cake, but I’m not even going to touch that with a ten foot pole, so I made my own.
I could go on for hours talking about the weirdness of Mardi Gras. But I have a parade to get to!
I’ve never kept track of the books I’ve read, but last year I decided to, just because I was curious just how many books I read in a typical year. Well, that kind of backfired because by keeping a list, I made myself read more.
I assumed it was around 100 books a year, and I wasn’t too far off. By New Year’s Eve, I’d finished 90. I’ll bet my actual yearly average is closer to 75.
What were some standouts? In order of when I read them, though I should warn you that I don’t remember the ones from the beginning of the year so much. So don’t ask why I liked the first third of the list.
Also, I was going to link to all of these on Amazon, but man, I’m kind of lazy. I really need to use GoodReads instead this year.
A Homemade Life – I love food memoirs. This one by Molly Wizenberg is great, in the manner of Ruth Reichl’s Tender at the Bone, which I could read over and over again. Also you need to start listening to her podcast, Spilled Milk.
The Improbability of Love – I also can’t remember exactly why I loved this one, but I do remember looking at the author’s other books afterwards, so I must’ve liked it a lot.
The Lake House – I really enjoyed the twist at the end of this one. You may notice I read several books by Kate Morton after this. I basically plowed through her catalog, but with diminishing returns. Some of them were kind of heavy, and they all seemed to have some kind of twist. And a twist isn’t really a twist if you’re looking for it.
Eleanor and Park – A reread. I absolutely adore this book. I wasn’t sure if I could count rereads, but Elizabeth assured me it’s okay.
Orphan Train – You know, just a good read. (In other words, I don’t remember it very much.)
The Shift – A really interesting nonfiction book about one single shift in the life of a nurse. Neat to read. Also exhausting. Nurses FTW!
The Nest – I enjoyed this. It was the hot book earlier this year.
Eligible – Loved this retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld. I read a bunch of her books this year.
The Very Picture of You – I have a thing about popular British fiction (I’m avoiding saying chick lit.) It’s very comforting and appeals to the Anglophile in me. I know it’s not great literature. And I’m not going to apologize for it. But you can tell I’m feeling defensive, eh? I need to get over it.
The Nightingale – I’m not a big history buff, but this was a really interesting story that took place during WWII. I learned a lot about what happened in France. And I sobbed like a damn baby at the end.
The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo – Actually an audio book. Does that count? Well, I’m convinced it was 1000x more enjoyable to hear Amy Schumer read it to me anyway. Plus, my library only had the audiobook. Annoying.
The Light Between Oceans – I was told I was going to sob at this one, but I didn’t. Which is good because I thought the ending was going to be devastatingly sad, but it was okay. Whew. I tried to watch the movie on the plane but I just couldn’t get into it, though. Also I didn’t really want to watch this story.
Ever since I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I’ve been obsessed with seeing the play while we’re in London. Considering the entire run through 2017 sold out in like four seconds, I wasn’t super optimistic about getting a ticket. Also, it meant asking George to entertain the boys while I spent six hours over the course of two evenings seeing this play. (All I can say is, the boys are going to be very familiar with pubs by the time the play is over.)
I’ve basically been checking the ticketing websites constantly for the past few months. You’d see tickets come available for other dates, but never the week we’ll be there. But today, while on a call at work (TOTALLY PAYING ATTENTION), I idly checked the site and THERE IT WAS! There was an available ticket! And it wasn’t even at the £200 level (which I was perfectly happy to pay for this experience) but at the £40 level! Yes, it means I’ll be sitting in the second to last row, way up in the balcony but WHO CARES?
So I click on it, hand shaking, a bit hysterical (and by now my coworkers know what’s going on, mostly due to the ear-splitting shriek I let out) and it’s suddenly NOT AVAILABLE.
So I click back and try again AND THERE IT IS!
But then my browser just freezes. Nothing will click. I close all the other tabs and somehow it starts working again and I’m able to get my ticket and pay for it and now it’s MINE ALL MINE!
(And a special thanks to my husband for letting me take this much time away from everyone to see the play.)